The tragedy that unfolded this past Friday in Newtown Connecticut rips the soul and breaks the heart. How could a gunman kill 20 children and 6 adults? How could such a thing possibly happen? The questions bring no answers, just a sharp and enduring pain, and a relentless horrible silence.
But silence, like everything else, leaves room for God. As we move toward Christmas, we remember even as we celebrate the birth of Christ, that much later he would endure a tortured and lingering death. No one would save him. No one would stop the suffering. And his mother, who cradled him at his birth, would stand helplessly and watch him die, murdered on the cross. All hope would seem lost in that final breath.
But not forever.
Christmas is linked to Good Friday and to Easter. In every moment of joy lies the seed of loss, in every loss, the memory of joy. It is far far too soon for those who grieve to take comfort from this. Maybe they never will. Maybe that isn't the point. But perhaps we who are at a distance can pray for the relatives and the friends, for the victims and survivors, that somehow, some way, the hope of Easter, how ever we name it and whether we can even see it ourselves, can find its way to them.
Christmas is coming, the time when we remember that God chose to walk as humans do through the dirt, the pain, the horror and the suffering of our world. And to stay with us through it all, no matter how painful, no matter how grievous, giving us hope that somehow despite everything, despite it all, there exists such a thing as enduring love, eternal care, and lasting peace.